Complementary medicine and oncologists' attitudes: A survey in Italy

Emanuele Crocetti, Nadia Crotti, Maurizio Montella, Marco Musso

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Aims and background: There is growing interest in medical practices other than conventional medicine (complementary medicine, CM). CM is widely used by cancer patients. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the knowledge of and the attitude towards CM in a sample of Italian allopathic oncologists. Methods: Seventy-six oncologists of the Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro of Genoa, 80 oncologists working at the Istituto Tumori Fondazione Pascale of Naples, and 100 hospital practitioners of the Province of Sondrio were asked to answer a self-administered structured questionnaire on CM. The level of their knowledge on CM, their opinion on CM and on CM therapists, the sources of information, the use of CM for themselves, the practice of CM and the attitude to refer patients to CM were investigated. Results: Replies were received from 190 oncologists. The response rate was significantly lower for the oncologists of Naples. One-fifth of the physicians replied that they had no knowledge of CM. The main sources of information were newspapers and TV. One-fourth of the physicians had personally used CM. About one-fourth of the physicians had practiced a kind of CM. The percentage of oncologists from Genoa who would refer their cancer patients to CM was significantly higher than the others. The physicians thought that about 84% of their patients used CM. The variables considered were tested in a multivariate model. The oncologists from Genoa showed a significantly increased risk of referring their patients to CM. Oncologists who had personally used CM referred patients to CM 3 times more frequently than the others. Conclusions: A large percentage of cancer patients used CM according to their physicians. The level and the quality of the knowledge of CM of the oncologists interviewed were low. The oncologists could hardly be helpful for their patients in dealing with therapies different from conventional medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-542
Number of pages4
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996



  • alternative medicine
  • complementary medicine
  • natural medicine
  • unconventional medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Crocetti, E., Crotti, N., Montella, M., & Musso, M. (1996). Complementary medicine and oncologists' attitudes: A survey in Italy. Tumori, 82(6), 539-542.